Nanda Devi Inner Sanctuary
Nanda Devi Inner Sanctuary
: Nanda Devi Inner Sanctuary|
|| Personal Equipments |
| 25 days (Delhi - Delhi) Actual Trekking: 12 days || Strenuous ||
Inner line permit from the Government of India required. || Sleeping bags,
The Nanda Devi
Sanctuary in the Garhwal Himalayas of India is a unique geographical feature.
A concentration of peaks connected by massive walls which dip no lower than 17,000ft/5200m
form an enormous amphitheater of 250 square miles of land all over 13,000ft/4000m.
The only exception is the point where the Rishi Ganga which drains this great
basin emerges to the West in one of the most terrific gorges in the world. In
this ring of mountains are at least twelve peaks over 21,500ft/6500m including
several famous names such as Changabang and Dunagiri to the North, and Trisuli,
Nanda Kot to the West and South. In the center is the goddess mountain Nanda Devi
a manifestation of Shiva's wife Parvati herself. At 25,643ft/7816m this is the
highest peak situated completely in India. Until 1934 this Sanctuary had never
been penetrated by human beings. In 1983 the Indian government closed the Sanctuary.
The delicate ecology of this hitherto pristine space needed time to regenerate
after the inevitable damage caused by expeditions and shepherds who were also
finding their way in.
We have been lucky to get special permissions
for a British research group for study of Flora & Fauna in the core of the
Nanda Devi Sanctuary. We feel that this would help in setting environmental guidelines
for future groups. This group includes Mr. Ian Mc Naugth Davis the president of
UIAA, Mr. Gorge Band of Kanchenjunga fame, John Shipton son of Eric Shipton the
first to explore the sanctuary and Col. N. Kumar the leader of the first successful
Indian ascent on Nanda Devi. We hope to be able to persuade the Indian Government
to allow more environment / research groups into the sanctuary in 2002 as a special
case. You may contact us for further details. Location Chart :
DELHI - RISHIKESH - JOSHIMATH - LATA - DRIBUGHETA - DEODI - RHAMANI - PATALKAKHAN
- NANDA DEVI SOUTH BASE CAMP - BHOJGARA - DEODI - DHARANSI - LATA - JOSHIMATH
- RISHIKESH - NEW DELHI DAY BY DAY ITINERARY Day
1 : Arrive Delhi, At Leisure.
Transfer to the Hotel. This is one of the
best hotels at the heart of the city. After an overnight flight, recovering from
jet lag by the swimming pool is an enticing option, but if you have the energy
to sample India, Delhi has a lot to offer. Day 2 : Train to Rishikesh.
We leave Delhi at dawn as the huge city starts to come to life, and transfer to
the train station to catch the 07.10hrs Shatabdi Express to Haridwar, arriving
there at 11.10hrs. Even after the twentieth visit travel through India never ceases
to astound. After four hours we reach Haridwar which is one of the holiest of
Hindu cities being where the Ganges enters the plains. We reach Rishikesh for
lunch, and after a well-earned siesta can walk along the banks of the Ganges by
the many famous Ashrams. At sunset, at Triveni Ghat, you can join the pilgrims
in making a puja to the Ganga by floating a little boat of candle and incense
on the river. Overnight at Hotel Natraj. Day 3 : Drive to Joshimath.
Drive to Joshimath another early start for the long
drive up the Ganges and Alaknanda rivers to Joshimath. We travel along an asphalt
road that now takes the pilgrims in buses and cars, but many holy men still walk.
The road is often tortuous but full of spectacular views of the Ganga, Alaknanda
and their ever steepening surrounding banks and hillsides Along with a lunch stop
we may have time to get in a swim in the river, an auspicious thing to do. Overnight
Uday Palace Hotel. Day 4 : At Leisure in Joshimath.
a long day on the road we take a well-deserved rest. Joshimath is an interesting
little town. Really a pilgrimage staging post it is perched on a steep slope several
hundred metres above the river and is usually teeming with pilgrims preparing
to go on the last stage up the Alaknanda gorge to Badrinath. But there are important
shrines here too, especially the Na Sing temple complex, and the temple and ancient
tree under which the great Hindu philosopher Shankara gained enlightenment.
Day 5 : Drive to Lata. (2,437m/ 45 minutes)
While the pilgrims
head up the Alaknanda gorge, we take the road leading east following the Dhauli
Ganga to Lata - a small village just past where the Rishi Ganga meets the larger
Dhauli Ganga. A five-hour drive, we pass the village of Tapoban, just beyond which
a hot spring erupts across the road. We are now going where few travelers have
been allowed for some years. Lata is our trailhead, and the dirt road continues
North along the Dhauli Ganga to Malari and the mountains bordering Tibet. Shipton
too camped here and in light shoes sprinted up Lata mountain 3848m, a wooded peak
above the village, to get their first view of the gorge ahead. The camp at Lata
is on the road side in an abandoned potato field. Camp at Lata. Day
6: Trek to Lata Kharak. (6-7 hours / 3,800 mts)
The first day's trek
is a hard pull up above Lata village to Lata Kharak. A Kharak is a summer pasture
and often an area of grazing just above the tree line. The stiff climb will take
us up through Rhododendron, Oak and "Chir" pine forest, emerging onto
the grassland at just under 13,000ft/4000m. As we start at around 8,200ft/2500m
this is a considerable gain in altitude, and will be test of fitness of the group.
However an early start and a slow steady pace will make it an enjoyable climb
through Himalayan forest, our first opportunity to observe its diverse flora and
fauna. Day 7: Rest and Acclimatisation
The gain of height
to that of a major alpine peak will be noticed by everybody, even locals. So today
we will spend a day enjoying the views from the Kharak, and generally acclimatising.
When Shipton and Tilman first came in the spring the ground was thick with melting
winter snow. The day can be utilized for a two hours trek to Seni Kharak to get
our first views of the Nanda Devi and the formidable Rishi Groge. Return to Lata
Kharak for overnight in tents. Day 8 : Trek to Dribugheta. (3,300m
/ 7-8 hours)
We cross our first pass Dharansi Khal 4250m, part of
a ridge coming down from the great Dunagiri above, and a watershed between the
Dhauli and Rishi Ganga. From here we contour round to reach the meadows of the
Dharansi plateau. Due to paucity of water we will not camp here. We walk across
the Dharansi plateau and drop steeply to a beautiful grazing pasture at Dribhugheta.
It is a long decent of atleast 2 1/2 hours which ends at a stream which we cross
over and climb for 15 minutes to our camp. In snow conditions a couple of rock
ridges will need fixed rope here. Day 9 :
This provides our next
camp, Dibrugheta perched above the great gorge, which Shipton described as "one
of the loveliest spots it had ever been his good fortune to behold", and
Tilman more graphically perhaps as "a horizontal oasis in a vertical desert".
The pasture was used by shepherds but beyond this point locals never ventured
before 1934. Day 10 : Trek to Deodi. (approx, 10,800ft/2,300m)
We now have to make our way up the great gorge of the Rishi Ganga itself. For
us the first day is horizontal travel allowing for plenty of ups and downs as
the path makes its way into the gorge. We cross the Rishi Ganga at Deodi on what
Hamish Brown in the seventies described as a doddery bridge. This is our next
camp so we have actually sustained a net loss of altitude. Shipton and Tilman
crossed further up, manufacturing their own bridge by cutting down trees with
the assistance of their porters. Day 11 : Trek to Rhamani.
Working our way up and down, contouring up the gorge on the Southern bank this
time we reach Rhamani our camp which is a small level area between the cliffs
and the raging torrent of the Rishi Ganga. The camp is named after the Rhamani
river that joins the Rishi Ganga from the North from the Rhamani Glacier flowing
from Changabang. Just beyond our camp on the northern bank was Longstaff's final
camp and the furthest point reached by man until Shipton and Tilman.
Day 12 : Trek to Patalkakhan.
This is the crucial stage of entry into
the Sanctuary. Above Rhamani is the great box canyon, that is, a canyon whose
sides rise perpendicularly from the waters. Before this Longstaff and Graham had
turned back, but Shipton and Tilman with their three sherpas explored and found
cracks and gullies across the slabs, often sheer hundreds of meters above the
river which eventually took them above their "Pisgah" or Promised land
buttress into the sanctuary. Today takes trekking into a different dimension,
and Hamish Brown commented that "one expects the spectacular, the difficult
when climbing - not walking!" The trail has been blazed, but it will take
nerve and determination on the part of all members to win through. Depending on
conditions we could camp at a slab platform now known as Tilchaunani, but if time
permits a better camp a little higher and over some more slabs is at Patalkhan.
We are now almost at 4500m and have entered the Inner Sanctuary. Day
13 : Trek to Nanda Deve South Base Camp.
From our camp Nanda Devi herself
towers 10,000ft/3000m immediately above us. For Shipton the excitement of being
in totally unexplored country was unsurpassable, "each corner held some thrilling
secret to be revealed for the trouble of looking." Near the camp is the junction
of two rivers that join to form the Rishi Ganga. One heads to the North of Nanda
Devi, and up into the Northern half of the Sanctuary. This is the direction Shipton
and Tilman took on their first entrance. When they came back after the monsoon
of 1934 they explored the southern half. It was following the southern river that
Tilman's 1936 expedition took, and we shall follow this route to our camp at Nanda
Devi South base. Days 14 - 15 -16 : Exploration of the Inner Sanctuary.
We now have three days to explore the Sanctuary. We are presented with a number
of enticing possibilities, and hopefully we will be blessed with the best of weather.
We can explore the glaciers to the South of Nanda Devi, or head South to where
Shipton and Tilman made their dramatic exit in 1934, or we could cross the Rishi
to try to sample the Northern Sanctuary and view the tremendous North faces of
Nanda Devi. Day 17 -: Trek to Bhojgara.
All things must come
to an end and we now have to leave the Sanctuary to its own devices, and start
our thrilling descent. On our way back we can make use of a small camp we passed
on our ascent at a place where tent spaces have been cut out of the slopes, a
spectacular setting looking out across to the sheer cliff of hundreds of metres
on the northern side of the gorge. Day 18 : Trek to Deodi.
Today we negotiate the now familiar but no less exhilarating slabs, to regain
our more normal trekking grounds on arrival at Rhamani. We continue past our old
camp back to Deodi where we crossed the gorge on our way up. Day 19
: Trek to Dharansi.
Having crossed the Rishi Ganga we retrace our contouring
of the gorge on the northern bank. Passing the alpine idyll of Debrughita again,
we make the steep climb up to our hanging valley of Dharanshi Day
20 : Trek to Lata.
Today we make our way over the pass and with the Dhauli
Ganga again in view far below us we pass through Lata Kharak and plunge down through
the forest to camp again at Lata. Day 21 : Drive to Joshimath.
We are met by jeeps in the morning and drive back to Joshimath, and Tilman's "fleshpots",
perhaps stopping on the way to enjoy the hot springs again outside Tapoban. Overnight
at the comparatively luxurious Uday Palace Hotel. Day 22 : Drive to
Today we have the long drive back to Rishikesh, but the hard
journey is made pleasurable by the increasing warmth as we descend again into
the sub tropics. Just outside Rishikesh we will stop and cross the Ganges in rubber
rafts to stay on the silver sand beach rafting camp on the banks of Holy Ganga.
Day 23 : Optional Morning Rafting and Overnight Train.
the camp we can sample white water rafting. This is a wonderful way to wind down
from our trek, gently floating down the Ganges, and with the occasional excitement
of a rapid or two, passing temples set in subtropical forest. In the evening we
are taken to Haridwar station to catch the overnight train to Delhi. Overnight
first class train travel in India is something to be sampled at least once.
Day 24 : Arrive Delhi
Transfer to the Hotel. Rest of the day at
leisure to relax and 'do your own thing'. In the late evening we transfer by taxi
to the airport to board our return flight home. Day 25 - Fly Out.